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Wayne Fields Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms149

The Wayne Fields Papers includes extensive draft materials toward his books and essays. Also included copies of publications featuring essays by Fields, a small amount of correspondence, clippings, and other ephemera.


  • Creation: 1964-2012


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


19.00 Boxes

Biographical Information

Wayne Fields is a nationally known expert on American literature, non-fiction prose, rhetoric and American political argument. He received a bachelor’s degree in English and Philosophy from Augustana College and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago.  Fields is currently the Lynne Cooper Harvey Distinguished Professor of English, American Literature and American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He joined Washington University in 1968 in the department of English, later serving as department chair and then as dean of University College and the director of its Master of Liberal Arts Program. He was also the driving force behind the establishment of the American Culture Studies Program, a multidisciplinary program that incorporates humanities, social sciences, arts and architecture and natural sciences. Fields served as the inaugural director of American Culture Studies until 2008.

His book, Union of Words: A History of Presidential Eloquence (1996) examines the use of rhetoric in presidential speeches, from declarations of candidacy to nomination acceptances, inaugural addresses, state-of-the-union speeches, declarations of war, executive farewells and other special addresses. His opinions are frequently sought by the national media to help interpret political speeches. He has served as a commentator for National Public Radio, Radio Free Europe and various television and radio network programs, and for five years wrote a regular column, “Close to Home,” for St. Louis Magazine. Other books include James Fenimore Cooper: A Collection of Critical Essays (1979); What the River Knows: An Angler in Midstream (1990), a highly acclaimed non-fiction book about fly-fishing, the mysteries of rivers and the uncertainties of life’s second half; and The Past Leads a Life of Its Own (1992), a collection of pieces about American boyhood.  His essays include "One Hundred Years of Solitude and New World Literature," "The American Adams," and "To Redeem from Ignorance: Jefferson and the Liberal Arts."

Fields has also received several teaching awards including the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Interfraternity Council’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and he has won fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Institute, the Ford Foundation and the National Humanities Institute.

Source of Acquisition

Accession number 2013.032. Gift of Wayne Fields, November 5, 2013

Wayne Fields Papers
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Revision Statements

  • 2021 April 20: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495